Now on our own! Bill and I returned to the ship after saying goodbye to Brian and Gary. A quick word about the Celebrity Apex staff. When we first went to Brian and Gary’s suite after hearing from Gary that there was a problem, the room was full of people. Our suite host/Concierge, John, was packing the suit cases, a ship officer, whose name I failed to get, was on the phone making transportation arrangements and I quickly determined I wasn’t needed for that effort. So, we were there giving Brian and Gary our support. In a few minutes we were on our way to the pier to an awaiting taxi. I noticed a small but significant gesture from ship’s officer. She quietly handled Gary a £20 note, telling him this might come in handy. I thought this a small but telling act. It made me appreciate Celebrity Cruises culture. As a Marriott manager I always encouraged my staff to show a sincere interest in our guest’s experience. Clearly that idea is alive and well at Celebrity.
Back on board, we settled in, getting used to the idea that our travel experience had changed significantly. We had a quick cross channel sailing and arrived into Le Havre early the next morning.
The ship’s excursions again had no appeal. In different times, I might have liked to visit the Normandy beaches, but they were too far for a taxi and, as I have mentioned, we were not interested in bus excursions. So, Bill and I walked from the ship into town and explored the waterfront, walked through an urban park and made our way back to the ship. I know it doesn’t sound exciting. But, it is just what we needed after the drama of the day before.
It was a short distance (186 miles) to our next stop, so I don’t know what the captain did. I doubt he sailed in circles using fuel, so I assume he just sailed very slowly up the coast. Later on Bill and I will be back in Brugge as the final stop of our Amsterdam to Brugge bike trip, so we did not leave the ship. Seebrugge is the port for Bruggee, but is actually 20 some miles away from town. Since we’re are going to be there later, we just stayed onbord.
Again, a quick sail up the coast brought us to the entry to the canal that would take us into Amsterdam. Much of the land mass of the Netherlands is below sea level and the system of dykes and pumps manages the water and keeps the towns, villages and countryside from flooding. The windmills that you see all over The Netherlands were an integral part of this system. Today there are electrical and diesel powered pumps that do the jobs once done by the windmills. Today’s windmills are mostly homes, museums and serve other functions. Very few actually do the job they were originally built for.
Before retiring on our last night aboard Celebrity Apex, the Captain told us if we wanted to watch us transit the Ijmuiden Locks that we needed to be up around 3 AM. Well, as it happened, I had to get up for a bathroom break just bout that time and I was able to go out onto the balcony and see our large ship entering the lock.
The Ijmuiden Lock was opened in January of this year. It is a much larger lock that the one it replaced and has increase the size of vessls that can enter Amsterdam harbor.
Bill and I have been to Amsterdam many times, and we had planned to have dinner at a few nice restaurants and enjoy our time on our houseboat. Brian, Gary, Bill and I decided to really do Amsterdam right and rent one of the canal boats in central Amsterdam. Our houseboat, the Prince Royal, was on Prinsengracht, directly across the canal from Anne Frank House. We had booked this large two bedroom, two bath housboat to share with Brian and Gary. Since they were no longer with us, we had lots of space.
The houseboat has a large modern kitchen and great room. Two fun areas were the pilot house, which you can see at the stern. This was a great room to see the passing boats on the canal, but still be warm and inside. The other place we liked to stay was the sitting area, on the deck in the bow of the ship. Below is a picture of Bill sitting on deck.
Below are some of the many boats passing our houseboat. Directly across from as was a pier for the boat tours to stop, to let passengers off for the Anne Frank House and museum. Our first full day was a beautiful sunny Sunday and the boat traffic constant.
When Bill and I were checking out the houseboat, we notice several flower pots on deck that seriously needed repotting. Bill offered to help our host, Chemelli, do the repotting. So on Wednesday afternoon, Chemelli came by with all the supplies and Bill and Chemelli made quick work of the repotting. Afterwards, as a thank you, Chemelli and her partner opened a bottlle of champagne and Bill and I supplied the hors d’oeuvres. It was a pleasant afternoon getting to know Chemelli and her partner.
Most of our time in Amsterdam was spent walking the city. All told, I logged 22.78 walking miles on Strava. We did have several nice dinners. Our favorite, was Restaurant Blauw, near Vondel Park. We have always enjoyed the Indonesan influence in Amsteram and one of our favorite meals is a Rijsttafel (Rice Table in English). This meal is a large bowl of rice accompanied by small portions of savory Indonesian meat dishes. It is an Indonesian version of Tapas.
One thing we like to do when traveling is to say hello for cats we meet along the way. Here are a couple. We don’t see cats being walked very often, but it can happen. The owner of this one let me try it out.
So our quick six nights in Amsterdam came to a close. On Friday night, our last in Amsterday, we moved from our lovely houseboat to the Westcord Art Hotel. There we picked up up our rental bikes and trip information to begin the Amsterdam to Brugge 7 day bike ride. And that, is a good stopping point. Next up a fantastic 223 miles ride through Holland and into Belgium, to the Unesco World Heritage City – Brugge.